Gentrification by Design 2

Case Studies 2+3: Pittsburgh + Chicago

Workshop Series

Saturday October 22 2016

GENTRIFICATION BY DESIGN – Shaping Neighborhood Change

Case Studies 2+3: CHICAGO + PITTSBURGH

In what ways can designers seek to influence trajectories of gentrification in American neighborhoods, and on behalf of whom?

This workshop—taking place over two Saturdays in October 2016—will bring together graduate students with leading practitioners from three case study cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. Through lectures and break-out discussions, students will be invited to examine and question current strategies being developed in these cities and to interact directly with practitioners from a range of disciplines. The speakers from each case study city will present a specific design challenge they are confronting in their own work. During the break-out discussions, participating students will develop responses to these challenges, and present their proposals and findings at the conclusion of the workshop.

What, if any, benefits can come to existing tenants and communities in American cities that are feeling the creep of gentrification? How can designers discern the diverse forms of gentrification in differing localities? If gentrification creates volatility for business-owners and residents in areas with increasing real estate values, what concrete tools are emerging in the design field to address displacement, shape the public realm, and re-direct investments in American neighborhoods? Who stands to gain from these new tools—the old-timers or new-comers? And are these categories of urban citizenship even relevant to the dynamics induced by increasing real estate values?

This second part of the two-part event takes CHICAGO and PITTSBURGH as case studies.

Emmanuel Pratt will share the work of the Sweet Water Foundation and, in particular, the organization’s project on Perry Avenue on Chicago’s South Side. He will discuss his efforts to develop alternative models of collaboration and partnership in the context of increasing gentrifcation in Chicago. Eric Williams will present his work at the Silver Room and how it offers an alternative economic model for neighborhood diversity and identity as well as local production and craft.

The questions raised in this part of the workshop are

Can a different process of neighborhood change occur when the development actors are radically altered through new models of partnerships?
How can design reconcile the structural and spatial violence produced by segregation and exclusion?

Moderated by Danielle Choi.

Karen Abrams will share two Community Toolkit Projects produced by the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority in collaboration with residents. She will discuss issues of vacant land, intergenerational collaboration, and government and community partnerships. Councilman Daniel Lavelle will share his work as representative of District 6 in Pittsburgh. He will discuss the use of community-based toolkits in Schenley Heights and Central Northside.

In this part of the workshop, the questions are:

How can design re-situate the dialogue between government-led versus resident-led processes, in terms of land use and planning?
How can design tap into policy to produce neighborhood transformation?

Moderated by Stephen Gray.


Karen Abrams
As Diversity and Community Affairs Manager of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Karen addresses the social, economic, and environmental equity issues of people in underserved urban communities. Interested in exploring the intersection of racial inequality and pedagogy through spatial terms, Karen challenges notions of community engagement space between arts- and design-based civic processes. Karen is a Harvard GSD Loeb Fellow ’17 and holds a Master’s of Science in Sustainable Systems from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from the University of Virginia.

Danielle Choi
Danielle is a landscape architect. She is the 2016-2017 Daniel Urban Kiley Fellow and Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Previously Danielle was a senior associate at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Danielle holds a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in art history from the University of Chicago.

Stephen Gray
Stephen is an urban designer. He is Assistant Professor of Urban Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Stephen is Associate Director on the Board of the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), and was a Senior Associate at Sasaki Associates. Stephen holds a Master of Architecture in Urban Design with distinction from Harvard University and a B. Arch from the University of Cincinnati.

Councilman Daniel Lavelle
As Councilman for District 6 in the City of Pittsburgh, Councilman Lavelle has worked extensively on the legislative aspects for neighborhood blight. His office introduced and passed legislation to hold creditors accountable for the maintenance of residential structures they own which are vacant. In addition, his office created programs to renovate abandoned structures in order to address land price speculation. He serves as the Chair for Public Safety, and as board member of the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Councilman Lavelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Pan- African Studies from Kent State University.

Emmanuel Pratt
As co-founder and executive director of Sweet Water Foundation—a growing network of Aquaponics Innovation Centers, Urban Agriculture, and hyper-local partnerships—, Emmanuel explores the role of art and interactive media through urban design, urban farming, and sustainability with a particular focus on the creation of new paradigms for 21st century city planning. Emmanuel is a Harvard GSD Loeb Fellow ’17 and is presently a Phd candidate of Urban Planning at Columbia University. He holds a Master’s in Science of Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University.

Eric Williams
As founder of The Silver Room—a community-based retailing center in Chicago—, Eric has established an alternative model of commercial enterprise where art, culture, and identity are constantly produced and exchanged. Founded in 1997, the hybrid pop-up store, jewelry shop, music venue, and art gallery has recently moved from the gentrifying Wicker Park neighborhood to Hyde Park in Chicago’s South Side. The Silver Room also organizes an annual block party that gathers over 6,000 people around a continuous line-up of local performers. Eric holds a degree in Finance from the University of Illinois.